The L. R. Hesler Award was established by students, colleagues, and friends of the longtime head of the botany department and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to reward exceptional teaching and service.
Lee Riedinger, professor of physics, has been a faculty member since 1971. He is the founding director of the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education, a premier doctoral program created in partnership with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The center is thriving, with thirty-two graduate students currently enrolled. Riedinger has been department head and associate vice chancellor for research as well as vice chancellor for research. From 2000 to 2006, he served ORNL as deputy director for science and technology and as associate lab director for university partnerships. Since his return to UT in 2006, he has led various efforts to focus the university on energy research and education. At the Bredesen Center, Riedinger ensures that all emerging scholars can learn from one another’s diverse backgrounds. His level of energy amazes all who know him. He conducts his own research through a project with Argonne National Lab and always shares what his students call an “infectious enthusiasm” for science. “The thrill of answering unknown questions still invigorates him,” his nominators note. Bredesen Center students will always remember Riedinger’s sage advice to never lose the sense of wonder that comes with being a scientist. Riedinger has been honored many times for his teaching, research, and service. In 2008, he received the Macebearer honor, the university’s top faculty award. Chancellor Cheek honored him with a Chancellor’s Medal upon completion of his service as interim vice chancellor of research last year.